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Comment: Several marks/dings on closed paper edge. No writing on pages. Cover shows some shelf wear. Initials on cover.
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Sam and the Tigers: A New Telling of Little Black Sambo Hardcover – September 1, 1996

4.1 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In the original story by Helen Bannerman, Little Black Sambo must tread carefully, lest his clothes be stolen from him by a gang of tigers. Today, it is the teller of the tale who must tread carefully, lest the forces of political correctness attack, charging racism. Because of the names she chose for her characters, the book has become a symbol of intolerance in the century since it was written. Strip away race, however, and the tale underneath is both simple and affecting. To make it more palatable to modern readers, Julius Lester has recast the tale in a "Southern black storytelling voice."

From Publishers Weekly

Troubled by the racist trappings?the characters' names and the stereotypical illustrations?of The Story of Little Black Sambo, but drawn nonetheless to its hero and its humor, Lester and Pinkney set out to reinvent the tale. Their interpretation is more freewheeling than Fred Marcellino's (see The Story of Little Babaji, above), and they departs frequently and ingeniously from Bannerman's version. The new book's protagonist is simply Sam; the setting is the land of Sam-sam-sa-mara, where everyone is named Sam?a touch that not only defuses any echoes of the original hero's derogatory name, but allows for many wonderfully absurd exchanges ("Sam looked at Sam. Sam shrugged. Sam shrugged back...."). Using the lively Southern black voice of his Uncle Remus retellings, Lester creates a savvy, comically streetwise hero who quickly learns to anticipate the tigers' muggings (" 'You know the routine,' said the Tiger. Sam nodded and took off his pants. 'Take 'em.' ") while losing none of his own sass. Pinkney's lavish illustrations?a feast of figures, color, expressions and detail?pick up and run with the expansive mood of the text. A hip and hilarious retelling that marries the essence of the original with an innovative vision of its own. Ages 4-8.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 and up
  • Grade Level: Preschool and up
  • Lexile Measure: 510L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Dial; 1st ed edition (September 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803720289
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803720282
  • Product Dimensions: 10.8 x 0.5 x 10.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,351,098 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on September 25, 1998
Format: Hardcover
I am an elementary librarian at Hardin Northern Schools. Almost all of my students are too young to remember the controversy that surround Little Black Sambo, and have never heard the story.
I was a child that grew up with that story, and loved it dearly. I also was a child who's mother was afraid the story was sending negative messages to her impressionable children. So at a certain point in our lives Sambo was removed.
How delighted I was to see it reappear it this wonderful new light. Pinkney and Lester are masters of their domains, and have proven once again that a good story is a most powerful tool.
I introduced this book at the beginning of the year and have had temendous results. Parents and children report having conversations about the old story vs. the new one. It has opened up a new line of communication in many households in our area.
How else could you make butter from a yellow shirt, purple pants, green umbrella, red coat, silver shoes, tigers and a very clever hero? Only in a book. Thank you Mr. Lester and Mr. Pinkney!!
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Format: Hardcover
I am a teacher of first grade and kindergarten students. My little students are six years of age...not old enough to remember the difficulties of segregation and the story of Ruby Bridges. They have never heard the story of Little Black Sambo. This past week we've been studying the life and philosophy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I read the wonderfully written and illustrated book of Sam and the Tigers to my kidlets. They loved the colorful illustrations and the idea that people and animals could live, speak, and work together. We all reveled in the beautiful language used by Julius Lester. This is a book the children want hear again and again.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
a charming retelling of a story that is too good to be discarded because of racist associations. (The original was about a little boy in India--it was appropriated by a racist American South.) The illustrations are delightful; the language is very appropriate to the characters. There are deviations from the original story that are very funny. A good out-loud reader can have a room full of adults laughing at the tigers' demands.
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Format: Paperback
My mother read the story of Little Black Sambo to me when I was just a little kid. Ofcourse I could not see any racism in it at that time. To me it was a book with vivid colors where I used my imagination to put myself in Sambo's place, and seeing those pancakes made out of tigers made my mouth water. I remember that as I heard my mother telling me how the tigers chased each other's tales faster and faster, in my mind there was a race going on, and I loved to hear the ending of how Little Black Sambo had been so smart and lucky, and how his parents were so proud of him. The pictures in this new book are beautifully enchanting, but the story lacks its original feel. I miss this book, and I was shocked to hear that it was considered racist. I never thought of it that way, and I'm not racist in any way, shape, or form. This new story is NOT the original and it will never replace the original one in my heart. ALSO, the original is a piece of history, and I think it is the most horrible thing we can do to ban books of any sort. I agree with the other reviewer that I will never give up my copy of the original, but if you don't have a copy of the original, then buy the new one, because the framework of the story is still there. It's one that you CAN read to your kids, which I honestly would not recommend for the original tale.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Lester and Pinkney have made it possible to share with my grandchildren a favorite story from my childhood in a new and entertaining way without any of the negatives that often accompanied the old telling.
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Format: Paperback
When I was a little girl, in the sixties, I loved the story of Little Black Sambo, but thirty years later, when my son came across my copy in a box of old books, and asked me to read it to him, I found that it was a lot less charming than I thought it was. Sambo was a great, resourceful little boy and the story was terrific, but as an adult I couldnÕt overlook the obvious condescension that the British author had toward her Indian characters. I hid the book away, but reluctantly, because it really was a good story with a great central character.
A few years later, I was thrilled to find this book. Julius Lester has kept everything that I loved about the original and made it even better. The story, about a clever little boy who outwits some tigers who want to eat him, is pretty much the same as Helen BannermanÕs version. Lester has simply transported it from India to a fantastic, fairy tale America, where animals and people live and work together. But what is special here is the way Lester tells the story. His style is funny one minute and breathtakingly beautiful the next. The writing is so fine and musical, itÕs a pleasure to read aloud.
And the pictures are brilliant. Jerry Pinkney is one of the best childrenÕs book illustrators around, and this is the best thing IÕve ever seen by him. It has all the lovely qualities IÕve come to expect to find in PinkneyÕs art work Ð great composition, tasteful use of color (which makes the brighter colors of SamÕs clothes practically glow on the page), and exquisite detail. But this book has magic touches that go way beyond that. Every time I look at this book, I discover new details Ð the faces in the tree bark and foliage, the little bonnets and jackets on the insects, the facial expressions of tiny, hidden animals recoiling in fear of the tigers Ð that add to the magic world of this book.
My thanks to Julius Lester and Jerry Pinkney for making it possible for me to read this great story to my children again.
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